A Creative and Connected, Changemaker Curriculum
The curriculum is the totality of pupils' learning experiences. It is everything that surrounds the child, from the Latin the course that must be run. At The Spinney Primary School we believe that our curriculum should be broad, balanced, rich and relevant, meet the needs of all children whatever their ability and help to develop the whole child, spiritually, morally, academically, creatively, intellectually and physically. The Spinney is proud to be a Whole Education Strategic Partner School.
At The Spinney we say "The Curriculum is a gift we give our children to take into their future. It is a gift we will never see them fully open, but we hope it served them well."
Our curriculum at the Spinney is designed to ensure that our children flourish in five domains (based on Valerie Hannon's book Thrive - Schools reinvented for the real challenges we face)
This aligns with our school's Take 5 Sustainable Agreements.
"Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care of your learning, take care of your school community and your world, take care for the future."
These agreements are displayed in classrooms and around the school.
In addition to knowledge, skills and a good character we want our children to develop a strong sense of self-agency. As an Ashoka Changemaker School (one of just 15 in the Country) our curriculum Intention can be described as
"We want our children to be happy today, fulfilled in the future and able to make their world an even better place."
We implement our curriculum intent through the taught curriculum consists of the Early Years Foundation Stage Programme of Study, The National Curriculum, the school curriculum and the wider curriculum as our young people engage with the wider eco-system in Cambridge and beyond.
At The Spinney we ensure the children have a range of enjoyable and engaging learning experiences that challenge, stimulate and promote thinking and learning. The curriculum meets statutory requirements and is carefully planned, sequenced and balanced through a whole school approach aligning with the statutory National Curriculum to ensure key knowledge and concepts are taught. In our last OfSTED the school was described as "forward thinking and outward reaching" and we have continued to use that axiom to guide us in designing our curriculum, drawing on a national and international smorgasbord of projects and programmes and innovations that are proven by research to have a positive impact on children's academic, and social, emotional, mental, cultural and physical development. These include EmpathyLab, MindUp, Maths No Problem, Enabling Enterprise, The Big Draw and so on.
In selecting currciulum innovations we are looking for the triple win - high academic outcomes, character development and pro-social learning including positive social action.
Much of the learning in year groups is planned around themes which usually last for a term or half a term. This programme of study is presented as curriculum map and parents and children are given termly copies of this detailing the elements of study that will be covered. Our mission statement at The Spinney is "Teaching and Learning Together" so we design the learning to be a co-constructed adventure with curriculum maps providing key vocabulary, key concepts, key skills and knowledge that children will learn along the way. The learning maps also serve as a useful aide memoire to the children of what has been taught and learned. Parents as partners in the children's learning is another key principle in our pedagogy and by sharing the learning objectives with families we encourage parents to support the child's learning at home, developing their cultural capital through museum visits, library visits, and practical home learning projects.
Teaching and learning is undertaken in various styles; sometimes as whole class instruction, sometimes with individuals, sometimes in group work, sometimes inside the school or in the grounds or on educational visits, sometimes through active learning. This is to ensure we offer a wide range of opportunities for the children to engage in and enjoy and also to ensure that there is a good match to meet each child's ability and need.
At The Spinney there is an emphasis on learning for application in real situations, so learning is richly enhanced by making learning links with other providers and partners e.g. The Fitzwilliam Museum, The University, Launchpad visits, Musical and Theatre performances. Visitors and parents are also welcomed in to school as volunteers to support and extend the children's knowledge, skills and understanding. Please speak to the office if you would like to volunteer in the school.
Phonics, Early Reading and Reading for Pleasure
The Early Years and Key Stage 1 teachers use the Story Time Phonics programme and wonderful real books to encourage and promote a love of reading. In addition the school uses PM Benchmark to assess children's reading strategies to ensure they receive the right intervention to support their learning to read. The school uses a wide range of books as part of a sequenced reading scheme to support the children with developing fluency as they progress into Key Stage 2.
In Key Stage 2, there is an emphasis on Reading for Pleasure which includes choosing books from the school library, and this is further enhanced through our partnership with EmpathyLab as well as weekly Dialogic Gatherings where children read and share a classic text.
The school makes use of Maths No Problem, a primary maths teaching programme with lots of practical activities for the children to enjoy, accompanying text books and online interactive teacher resources. Videos to help parents understand the approach can be found below (external website).
This wonderful scheme promotes problem solving and collaborative learning. It is highly engaging, fun and promotes excellent understanding of number and maths. Similar to our approach with Reading, Salford Maths tests are used to assess children skills for solving mathematical problems and where there are gaps, a range of interventions are available to support the children to become fluent mathematicians.
The Spinney teachers know that children learn better when they are excited and engaged and at the Spinney we are constantly looking to provide stimulating and motivating learning opportunities. To do this we work with parents and the whole community to think creatively about how we can use the skills of everyone in the school. We look for continual improvement, setting our own challenging targets and working tirelessly to build on success.
Primary education is a vital stage in children's development, laying the foundations for life. But it should also be a positive, exciting and enjoyable, rich experience for all our children. The Spinney signed up to The Cambridgeshire Creative and Cultural Manifesto for the Curriculum and we believe that the planned curriculum should be an adventure, a journey of learning undertaken by the children in partnership with their classmates and the teachers. Children are involved in planning aspects of the curriculum and contribute to the Termly Curriculum map. Children are also involved in reviewing the effectiveness of curricular by providing verbal feedback so that the teachers can reflect on, review and iterate their teaching.
Implementation Continued - The Teaching Faculty
The Spinney teachers are intellectual, creative, inspiring and hard working. They collaborate as a faculty to design the curriculum opportunities together to ensure that the learning is sequential, coherent and challenging. The school and the teaching team prioritise high quality continuous professional development and keep abreast of the latest research. pedagogic thinking and educational innovations.
Learning Beyond the ClassroomThe Spinney curriculum was judged to be "outstanding" during our last OfSTED partly due to the number of additional educational visits that are planned for the children.
As a school we believe that learning is not limited to the walls of our building but can happen anywhere. To this end, staff are encouraged to be responsive to the many learning opportunities available in our historic village and our prestigious University City. Therefore when a learning opportunity arises staff are encouraged to take advantage of nearby resources and activities such as the Botanic Gardens, University and adopt a "Get on The Bus Approach" to the curriculum by taking the local bus into the City. Similarly, staff use the outdoor learning environment as much as possible for example using the outdoor space in Early Years, the playground and adjacent playing field and the nearby Spinney Wild Wood.
For this reason parents must ensure that their child is provided with suitable clothing for the very mixed British weather conditions. One of our sayings at The Spinney is "There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes".
Learning at HomeWe greatly value the importance of children's learning at home and The Spinney works in partnership with parents, recognising that learning is not limited to the school building or school hours. We recognise that the children have access to a wide variety of educational experience out of school, for example through dance lessons, music lessons and martial arts. All of these have an important role in developing the whole child.
One of the most important ways that parents and carers can support their children's learning is to read to them or listen to the children's reading regularly and to foster a sense of enjoyment in the spoken and written word. Other activities such as cooking, board games, gardening, family events or visiting museums together are greatly encouraged and can of course be hugely beneficial.
Each week the children will bring home a number of activities designed to support the learning objectives that they have been working on in class. This may be research activities, maths puzzles or investigations. The children may also have specific tasks in order to practise key skills such as reading, spellings or times tables. The type and frequency of homework will depend on the age or ability of your child.
For more Information on our Curriculum Design please read our Curriculum Policy
Impact of Our Curriculum
The Spinney children leave our school as happy, confident, sociable individuals, compassionate caring citizens, and with a love of learning.
In addition our pupils perform highly in the Statutory National Assessments achieving higher in Reading, Writing, SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar) and Maths when compared to Local Authority or National data.
Please see the School Performance Data Page